Email changed tennis pro's life. 43 years had passed since they talked. How 50 Couples Found Love After 50 prompted this story. Old flames can reunite.
By Tom P Blake Finding Love After 50
Note from Tom: This column first ran in 2012
Kirk is in his fifth year as the Director of Tennis and head coach for both the boys and girls tennis teams at JSerra High School in San Juan Capistrano, California. While having lunch at my Dana Point deli one day, he noticed my How 50 Couples Found Love after 50 book on display and said, "I have a story that would have fit in your book."
Kirk said that on October 11, 2007, he and his twin brother Keith were driving home from work on Pacific Coast Highway when they noticed a woman with short blonde hair who reminded them of Valerie, Kirk's sixth grade (1964) girlfriend. They had a conversation about her and how she would likely look now. Kirk hadn't communicated with Valerie in 43 years.
The power of ESP in
On the next day, October 12--five years ago today--Kirk received an email, which, he said, changed his life: "Emblazoned across my computer screen were the words, 'Do you remember me?'" In a very strong coincidence that makes one believe in the power of ESP, the email was from Valerie.
Kirk said, "Anxious emails revealed that we were both divorced and unencumbered. Subsequent emails became phone conversations, which led to another revelation, a sweet, sexy, Southern accent-- definitely not acquired in Bakersfield, where we had been in the sixth grade together." Subsequently, Valerie had lived in Nashville for years.
Kirk added, "One of the first questions she asked was, 'Do you remember declaring at recess one day that you were going to marry me?' Dang, she either had a great memory or a fantastic imagination. Siding with the latter, I replied, "No."
Kirk learned that Valerie had tracked him down via Classmates.com. A friend of a friend of Kirk's was attending a convention in Nashville and had lunch with Valerie. She and the friend of a friend had wagered one dollar to see who could locate the most classmates.
"Valerie coyly suggested he locate the twins, my brother and me. He agreed, accomplished the task and Valerie gladly paid up! She contacted me through my tennis website (www.kirkorahood.usptapro.com) " Kirk said.
"Valerie asked if I ever visited Nashville. Yes, I had, for tennis events long past BUT, more importantly, I had three tickets to come see my daughter play college tennis in that area, when tennis season resumed in the spring." They would see each other then. The Xmas holidays came and went with Kirk and Valerie spending the time at their respective homes.
Kirk said, "Valerie, however, lost patience; waiting until tennis season was no longer an option. She purchased a ticket to visit me in San Clemente at the end of January. The ramifications of this announcement were overwhelming and confusing. The announcement was VERY BOLD!
"I greeted her at John Wayne Airport, and gave her a big hug. A huge relief she admitted. Valerie was so awesome and classy! Her smile was still the same, which is what I remembered the most about her.
"We enjoyed an incredible sunset at the Fisherman. I gave her a big "Gone with The Wind" kiss as soon as we returned home from the romantic evening on the pier. Valerie thanked me for that kiss, she had been wondering when or IF it was going to happen.
"Any initial apprehensions, sophomoric giddiness, or curiosities vanished! We had a great reunion, caught up on old times, present times and future times. The days held a myriad of experiences; barbecues, home cooked meals, bottles of Cab that Dionysus would die for, walks on the beach, and other pleasures never foreseen or conjured up by innocent, sixth-grade minds.
"Did we fall in love this fast? Or were we ever out of love? She admits to always loving me, having never forgotten me. I'd never forgotten her either. I believe, good qualities that attract young people are inherent, still present in the mature version."
Tennis coach Kirk is a pretty romantic dude. For her birthday, he wrote and recorded a love song titled; "A Friend of a Friend, of a Friend of Mine," which was based on the luncheon in Nashville that Valerie had with Kirk's friend of a friend. After singing the song to her, he presented her with a framed copy, CD in front, sheet music in the background. He said, "Every word in the song is true, including these: 'You moved to the South, me to the coast; your cute little smile what I remembered most.'"
In their getting-reacquainted discussions, they discovered they had encountered brief near-sightings of each other in Crested Butte, Houston and Nashville, which prompted these words in the song as well: "We led separate lives, not too unlike, our paths never crossed, the timing not right."
Kirk also included words in the song based on another coincidence-- they both have a boy and girl, the boys sharing the same unique first name, Hunter: "We both raised two kids, we did our best, you in Music City, me in the West."
Kirk invited Valerie back to Southern California for the 2008 Valentine's Day week-end. He had a little romantic surprise in store. They drove to Bakersfield, straight to Colonel Nichols Elementary School.
"There on the exact playground spot where I made my marriage proclamation 45 years ago, I asked Valerie if she would like to share the rest of her life with me! She said 'yes' and we were married in June, 2009," he stated.
Kirk is pleased that Valerie got to meet his father before his father passed away: "Dad was ecstatic that I finally had a positive and loving woman in my life. Valerie flew out for Dad's services which meant more to me than she'll ever know. She got to meet my extended family, albeit not under ideal circumstances."
Although married, Valerie was still living in Nashville and Kirk in San Clemente. They spent a lot of time flying back and forth. He would spend three months there, and then three months in San Clemente, based around the JSerra tennis season. Finally, Valerie moved to Southern California and they bought a home in nearby Laguna Niguel.
However, Valerie has returned to Nashville because she could not secure a job in Southern California and has been unable to sell her home there.
Kirk said, "We are back in our bi-domicile relationship until something changes...."
Rest assured, the romantic, creative tennis coach and his beautiful-smile wife will figure out a way to be together permanently. What are a few months after 40+ years apart?
Valerie and Kirk